Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Beauty of Crayons

My dad likes to tell the story of the night before my first day of school. Ever. I was entering K-4, and I needed crayons. He went out to Woolworth’s to buy them, and he’s been buying me crayons ever since!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Simple Mitten Craft

It’s not that cold outside, but we are talking about warm clothes that we wear, and today we’re decorating paper mittens! 

I freehanded some simple mitten shapes beforehand, cut them out, and glued them to white construction paper. The kiddos got to choose from foam rectangles (our shape of the month), craft jewels (with stickies on the back), and sequins (who doesn’t love sequins?!) to place anywhere on their mittens.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Princess Days: Jasmine

What do an egg cup, some genie pants, a fistful of cotton, and a mouth full of crackers have to do with one another? They were all part of our second Disney princess day (click here for an explanation), all about Aladdin, Jasmine, the Genie, and Abu!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Pie-Day: Peanut Butter Banana Nutella Pie

Just read the title and let your mouth water. Peanut butter. Banana. Nutella. Pie. It’s like all of our favorite things rolled up into one bundle of awesomeness! I came across this recipe through Pinterest, and I’m so glad we added it as this year’s January pie of the month. The original recipe was from Andrea Meyers: making life delicious and held significant personal meaning for her and a friend. Please check out her blog to get the full story (and she has much better photos)!

We made 2 pies, so there are more ingredients pictured here than what the recipe calls for. Lots of good stuff here, but in no way is it conducive to any New Year’s resolutions for weight loss!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Toddler Squares

SQUARE (noun): a shape with 4 sides of equal length; (verb): to settle or make even

“You can’t fit a round peg in a square hole.” – American proverb

"A round egg can be made square according to how you cut it; words would be harsh according to how you speak them.” – Japanese proverb

“Square meals often make round people.” – E. Joseph Kossman

Monday, January 21, 2013

750 Words Every Day

I’ve filled up my fair share of journals over the years.


Not all my writing has been full of deep, meaningful thoughts, of course. When I was 10 years old, I purposed to record all the food we ate. It lasted for 2 days.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wintry Fun for Florida Toddlers

It’s been a busy 2 weeks in our classroom since we returned from Christmas break! Even though the thermometer has read 80 degrees most of the time, we’ve been learning all about winter! No, our toddlers couldn’t go out and play in the snow, but we did learn about the cold!

Our playground is in the beating tropical sun, so to cool off a bit, we usually play with water. These past 2 weeks, though, we’ve been playing with ice! The toddlers have had so much fun scooping ice into cups, placing the ice cubes back in the tray, watching the ice melt, rubbing the ice on their faces, trying to lick the ice, throwing ice, burying ice in the dirt, etc. They are talking up a storm these days, and “Ice is cold!” has become the new saying.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Pie-Day: Robert E. Lee's Orange Pie

I will be honest: this pie did not turn out as yummy as we hoped. This was made January 2012, and I think the main lesson we learned is that our family does not prefer custard pies. However, I share it here to document our pies, learn from our mistakes, and to share the recipe with people who may like custards.

I was so excited for orange – I love orange cakes, orange jello, orange cookies, orange frosting. Our family greatly enjoys the oranges and nectarines we grow in our backyard, and it’s exciting to be able to make a fruit pie in the winter, because even in Florida, not many fruits are in season in January. But alas, either I did not follow the recipe close enough, or I just didn’t care for the taste.

our family with the tangerine tree in our backyard, January 1998

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bible Verse Handprint Calendar

In my 3 and a half years of teaching, I’ve always had trouble coming up with ideas for a Christmas gift for my students to give their parents. Of course we’re making all sorts of homemade ornaments and fun art projects, but December has always been such a hectic month. I’ve always felt like there’s never enough time to rest and enjoy the simplicity of the Christmas story. Kids don’t need a big production and 500 projects to learn about how Jesus loved us and came to earth as a baby. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Pie-Day: Banana Cream Pie

Another pie! 

Our family has a slight obsession with bananas. We see them as portable, self-contained, sweet bundles of perfectly-textured goodness. We buy them by the bushel because they go so fast in our house. In fact, our love of bananas is probably only surpassed by our love of peanuts. Really, we just love our food. This, for instance, is how many bananas are in our house right now.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Circle Art for Toddlers

In my toddler class, we focus on a shape every month. That sentence alone could drive many of you away, or intrigue some readers for the wrong reasons. Let me explain:

What It Does NOT Mean:

  • That we push our 1-year-olds to memorize shape names and outlines
  • That we talk only about shapes all month long
  • That I am only allowed to mention that specific shape for the entire month (obsessively showing a picture of a rectangle, for instance, when there’s a perfectly good heart printed on one of their shirts that day)
  • That they’re geometric geniuses by the end of the year

What it DOES Mean:

Taking a Bath in the Classroom

Story of the day: I was talking with students who were holding baby dolls, saying things like, “Is your baby hungry? Here is a bottle,” “You are rocking that baby very nicely,” “Sing to your baby,” and “Oh, that baby looks a little dirty – maybe she needs a bath.” A few minutes later I went to wash my hands, and this is what I found in the sink. Warning: children will take you literally! :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Homemade Bread of the Honey Wheat Variety

This is one of our family’s “staple” recipes for homemade bread. I’ve made it so many times that I have the recipe memorized. It’s classic, hearty, goes with anything, and can be eaten at any time of the day. Best of all, it’s pretty simple to make. If you’ve never made homemade bread before, I challenge you to try this now! (Warning: allow at least 3 hours to make this.)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Princess Days: Sleeping Beauty

Here follows an account of our family’s recreational habits. Two summers ago, we decided to have family “princess days.” 

Now even though there are 4 of us sisters, by no means are all of us super “girly girls.” This endeavor would not mean glittery hair, makeovers, fancy dresses, or even a trip to Disney World. 

No, each selected date would be dedicated to a specific Disney princess and would involve several specific elements:

  • The watching of her movie
  • The reading of the original tale (if any) before Disney redid it
  • The honorary wearing of a certain color
  • The reenacting of a scene from the movie
  • The baking and/or eating of a somehow-related food (duh!)
  • The taking of many pictures!

Now, here for your enjoyment, is the first installment of our family’s “princess days.” Hail to the Princess Aurora!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Pie-Day: Coconut Cream Pie

It all began with my dad - he loves seasons and holidays. Our family was talking about food (big surprise there) that was appropriate for different times of the year, and somehow we got on the subject of pies. Now my sister and I had made a pie before, and we had enjoyed some pies here and there throughout our life, but we were inspired to write down the different pies that my dad had assigned for each month. For instance, apple was clearly a September pie, while pumpkin pie could only be eaten in October.

This little list graced the computer desk for several years before we finally decided to make the pies - one for every month of the year. Since then it has continued, and we've made a different pie every month for the past 3 years. I plan to post our archived pie recipes once a week until we're caught up to the present... because the pies still continue this year!

November 2012 - the pies continue!

In January 2010, it was time for the big year of pies to begin. We started with coconut cream pie, something about which only my father was enthusiastic. (None of the rest of us like coconut very much, but we were pleasantly surprised by this pie!) Please excuse the lack of quality in the pictures, as I'm pleased to say that my photography has improved in the 3 years since these were taken.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Preparation for Winter (with "Toddlers vs. Preschoolers")

I’ve taught 4-year-olds for the past 2 years, but this year I’m with toddlers, so I’m adjusting the curriculum to fit their age. People ask me which age I like better, and I look at them like they have lobsters growing out of their ears, because how can a 4-year-old be compared with a 20-month-old? 

A messy room is a happy room! Here are some of our toddlers at play.

Every age has its advantages and disadvantages, which I have spontaneously decided to address here:

The Downs of 4-Year-Olds:

  1. They’re smart and articulate enough to talk back.
  2. Girl drama! (both friendships and boys)
  3. It’s more stressful to prepare adequate learning activities.
  4. They have more emotional “baggage” and must be dealt with accordingly.

The Downs of Toddlers:

  1. Diaper changing - 12 times a day!
  2. The urge to dump things on the floor trumps the clean-up song.
  3. Separation anxiety is still very much in play.
  4. Repetitive books and songs.

The Ups of 4-Year-Olds:

  1. They say the cutest and most creative things! I love writing their words! 
  2. They’re potty-trained with few accidents and little supervision required.
  3. Science experiments, building complicated structures, cooking recipes, special celebration days, huge projects – they can do it all!
  4. They’re learning how to write their names, sound out letters, and read words.
  5. You can reason with them.
  6. They’re more independent and can follow directions better.

The Ups of Toddlers:

  1. They are adorable! Pretty much anything they do is cute and makes me smile! I just love photographing them, because it always turns out cute.
  2. They're just learning to talk, and it's amazing to watch their vocabulary explode (and their personalities emerge).
  3. Everything is full of wonder; it helps me slow down and enjoy the little things in life with them.
  4. They’re much more prone to hugging and snuggling.
  5. Not as much is expected, so when more is delivered parents are ecstatic.
  6. They’ve had so little life experience and are incredibly easy to influence and shape them for the best.

So there you have it. I love both ages and am thankful to have experience with toddlers and preschoolers. My Christmas break continues for 4 more days, which has given me plenty of time to prepare. Here are some things I'm looking forward to doing with my little ones in the coming weeks:

This snowflake from Inner Child Fun, whose website boasts that it's "art so easy, a toddler can do it"! Indeed, we have done several fingerpainting projects with shapes strategically taped-off, so I can't wait to try this!

Painting with frozen ice a la Getting Messy with Ms. Jessi - I've done this before, but I'm anxious to try watercolor or food coloring (rather than tempera paint) mixed with water for the littles! Here's a way our toddlers can actually experience winter in Florida!

winter craft for kids

Cork-stamped snowflake from No Time for Flashcards - always such great ideas on there! I knew all those corks I've been hoarding would come in handy someday! (No seriously, I have hundreds.)

Adorable little footprint penguin from Meet the Dubiens - such a cute keepsake!


Toilet paper roll bird feeder from LDS Living - this will be fun to hang outside our window and watch the birds!

Snowman in a Bottle by Teach Preschool

Snowman bottle from Teach Preschool... I am thinking of adapting it so the kids can stick cotton balls in the bottle instead of ice (or maybe after the ice melts), because they are obsessed with pressing small items into bottles, probably due to another project we always do together (more on that later!) Yay for working on fine motor skills!

I have so many other ideas, both on my Pinterest winter board and elsewhere, which will be shared on here in the coming weeks!
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